Updated: Mar 28
Get out of that industry-silo!
Let’s be transparent: with this post, I would like to sell you something. Maybe just an idea, perhaps our services. Anyway, I hope you keep on reading.
Recently, the reworked Covid update of my book, The World is Round was published. The Dutch version (De Wereld Is Rond) already received a lot of positive reactions, some great reviews and even won the title of ‘management book of the year 2020’ in The Netherlands. The book was a personal gamble because, for the first time in my career, I talk about things that go way beyond digital.
“I encourage the readers to get out of their industry-silos and reconsider their transformation strategy”
The essence of the book deals with the greater disruptions in society: challenges like the future of work, living, mobility and topics like climate, sustainability and healthcare (it turned out that Covid accelerated these disruptions, hence a new updated version of the book). Instead of just looking at digital disruptions, I encourage the readers to get out of their industry-silos and reconsider their transformation strategy based on insights from a higher perspective, where digital and society meet. Let me explain.
The Ground Floor Perspective
For decades, companies could build their strategy from the Ground Floor Perspective: they mainly looked at their direct competition and maybe at adjacent industries to see change, innovations or shifts in the market to predict their future. That was rather simple to do: in most situations, it was enough to extrapolate the last years of company activities to get an image of the future. Just ad some revenue growth, extra market share or cost reductions to draft your strategy. If your competitor launched an innovation, it was enough to copy it to be on par again. They never looked up, they never looked further, they were on the ground level.
But that comfortable era came to an end a decade ago.
The 3rd Floor Perspective
With Digital Transformation came entirely new challenges. It was no longer enough to understand the ins and outs of your industry to be future proof. You also needed to see and understand the disruptive potential of the new technology players: from the overhyped mosquito bites of the startups, to the lethal shark bites of the big tech companies. You had to move up, to a higher perspective.
This is the era in which we are currently operating. Most companies realise that to be ready for the future, they have to look at more than their traditional market and extend their view to include the players in the digital world. They are now at the 3rd Floor and from that perspective, they can see more and be better prepared to create their Digital Transformation strategy. But what if that isn’t enough?
The 5th Floor Perspective
As I explained earlier, my book talks about the broader societal disruptions that we are facing. It offers an optimistic future perspective and framework to deal with the changes at hand. It is my strong belief that companies that do not understand the societal disruptions will no longer be able to create a valid strategy. Digital Transformation is no longer enough. It is Societal Transformation that will set the winners apart from the losers.
Companies that want to be able to do so will have to operate from The 5th Floor. They will have to create a higher perspective and observe more than industry or digital changes. They have to connect the dots from industry, digital and societal changes to see the future. And unfortunately, there are not a lot of 5th Floor Companies yet.
Let me give you a retail example to clarify what I mean. A Ground Floor Company would monitor (and copy) every move of the competition: they lower their prices, you follow; they modernise a store, you do too; they introduce self-scanning, so do you.
A 3rd Floor Company would do all of the above and also anticipate the digital challengers: step up e-commerce, introduce free home delivery, and so on.
A 5th Floor Company would also try to understand what society could look like in a couple of years from now. How will people work? Where will they live? What is the environmental footprint of our activities? Will they still have their own cars?
Only when you reflect upon all these topics and understand how they can impact the future, you will be able to create a future-proof strategy. Just imagine that people would indeed move less in five years from now, that would dramatically impact the traffic to your stores in the outskirts of cities. So how far fetched is this? Fact: in under a decade, the number of driver’s licenses that were issued in Belgium dropped by almost 20%. Fact: in that same period the number of people in the city centre of Ghent without a car increased to over 50%.
On what floor are you? What is your perspective for change? Are you still a Ground Floor Company, gazing at the other dinosaurs?
On what floor are you? What is your perspective for change? Are you still a Ground Floor Company, gazing at the other dinosaurs? Or are you already on the – 3rd floor, actively trying to understand and anticipate the digital disruptors?
So, this is where I sell you something.
In my book and presentations, I try to stay away from talk that is too commercial, but this time I won’t. First of all, I want to sell you the idea that you have to move up, enhance your perspective, become a 5th Floor Company. I hope that both this post and my book can convince you.
But maybe I can actively help you operate on the 5th floor, or at least, my company can. We have been assisting dozens of organisations in Europe and the Middle-East with their transformation, innovation and growth plans. We made them, one after one, good 3rd Floor Companies, with a solid future vision and a plan for digital transformation.
But we too have continued to evolve from the 3rd to the 5th floor. Our focus is no longer digital transformation, but Impact Transformation. What exactly that entails, I'll explain in this blog post, but in short it means that we help strive for broad technological and societal transformation.The goal is to turn our clients into impactful organizations: armed to deal with the operational and economic challenges they face, but also with the goal of making a positive, impactful contribution for society and planet.
All of our recent work is based on this 5th floor "Impact Transformation" approach. Some examples to check out:
City of Ostend: technological and societal transformation strategy for 2025, 2030 and 2050
Avans Hogeschool (NL): a strategic vision on the future of (higher) education
VRT: a transformative vision for a public broadcaster in a post-Covid world
Unilever: the search for the new S-curve, a new perspective and an out-of-the-box view on the world of tomorrow
Are you looking for that unique vision of the future, for an image of your New Equilibrium?
I do realise you already have a strategy. Probably created by one of the big players, maybe we even created it ourselves a couple of years ago, or perhaps it was done by another smart boutique agency. But if you are convinced that you need to become a 5th Floor Company, if you are looking for that unique vision of the future, for an image of your New Equilibrium, you should talk to us.
Reach out to us if you want to talk about what Impact Transformation can mean for retail and beyond. We can help you prepare for the New Equilibrium, prepare for the future.